Highly cited paper by dep’t chair at Sloan Kettering is corrected — three times

A radiology journal has published an addendum to a 2005 review on cancer imaging techniques, alerting readers to figure duplication.

But that’s not what caught our attention about this case. The addendum, published in January, is the third notice that The British Journal of Radiology (BJR) has issued for the 2005 review by Hedvig Hricak, chair of the Department of Radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. The notices, published between 2014 and 2018, all describe duplication.

Why the series of notices, all describing a similar problem? Continue reading Highly cited paper by dep’t chair at Sloan Kettering is corrected — three times

Ethics, authorship concerns sink homeopathy paper by researchers arrested last year

For a host of reasons, a journal has retracted a paper co-authored by a researcher who reportedly once faced charges of practicing medicine without proper qualifications.

According to the retraction notice for “Psorinum Therapy in Treating Stomach, Gall Bladder, Pancreatic, and Liver Cancers: A Prospective Clinical Study,” published Dec. 8, 2010 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the paper was plagued by:

Continue reading Ethics, authorship concerns sink homeopathy paper by researchers arrested last year

Caught Our Notice: What if you find out a paper relied on expired herbal supplement?

Via Wikimedia

Title: Exploration of inhibitory mechanisms of curcumin in lung cancer metastasis using a miRNA- transcription factor-target gene network

What Caught Our Attention: The researchers were studying how curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, can inhibit lung cancer metastases. But upon learning that the primary material had been expired at the time of testing (and realizing they were unable to repeat their experiments), the researchers pulled their paper. Expiration dates do have safety factors built in, but attention to such details is imperative in research.  Continue reading Caught Our Notice: What if you find out a paper relied on expired herbal supplement?

Caught Our Notice: When authors go MIA, the article may follow

Via Wikimedia

Title: IRF9 inhibits human acute myeloid leukemia through the SIRT1-p53 signaling pathway

What Caught Our Attention: When authors fail to respond to editors’ requests for information, it isn’t hard to imagine that the submitted manuscript will lose its publishing appeal. In this case, the journal and publisher withdrew the article after “repeated attempts” to contact the authors were unsuccessful.

The notice doesn’t say why the journal needed to get in touch with the authors; of course, some authors may cease correspondence for a variety of reasons, but there is usually some backstory. Since the authors disappeared, the withdrawn article has, as well. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: When authors go MIA, the article may follow

Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for prominent physicist (with new funding) cites falsification

Via Wikimedia

Title: Improved Cellular Specificity of Plasmonic Nanobubbles versus Nanoparticles in Heterogeneous Cell Systems

What Caught Our Attention: Nanotechnology researcher Dmitri Lapotko, whose work with lasers continues to catch media attention, has earned his fourth retraction.  As with the other three, the latest notice mentions an investigation at Rice University, but provides no specific information other than “data falsification” for images, and no indication as to the offending researcher(s). (In the past, Rice hasn’t even confirmed to us the presence of an investigation.) Only Laptoko and Ekaterina Lukianova-Hleb are common authors to all retractions. Despite these recent setbacks, Lapotko has not fared too badly in research funding.  Continue reading Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for prominent physicist (with new funding) cites falsification

Journal: Publish here, and we’ll pay you $500

A new journal is offering something we’ve never seen before: A cash reward to corresponding authors of papers it publishes.

Normally, in the case of open-access journals, researchers have to pay article processing charges (APCs). But Minimally Invasive Surgical Oncology, an open-access journal launched at the end of last year, flips the typical narrative — it will pay corresponding authors $500 for every original or review article it accepts. If any author joins the editorial board, the payment — which the journal dubs “royalties” — increases to $600.

Editor Wenyuan Chen admitted it’s an unusual policy:

Continue reading Journal: Publish here, and we’ll pay you $500

Early data on potential anti-cancer compound now in human trials was falsified, company admits

A pharmaceutical company has admitted that one of its former researchers falsified early data on a compound that’s designed to fight cancer, now in human trials.

The data, published as an abstract in August 2015 in the journal Cancer Research, reported a therapeutic benefit of acalabrutinib in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. The compound, developed by the company Acerta Pharma, has also been the subject of additional trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Blood in 2015. The 2015 NEJM study, which had several authors in common with the Cancer Research abstract, showed the agent had “promising safety and efficacy profiles in patients” with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

But an investigation into the data underlying the 2015 abstract shows some were falsified, prompting the journal to retract the abstract.

Ed Tucker, senior vice president of Medical Safety, Quality and Compliance at Acerta Pharma, told us that in August 2016 the company identified an issue with the data in the Cancer Research abstract and started an investigation:

Continue reading Early data on potential anti-cancer compound now in human trials was falsified, company admits

Miffed at exclusion from a meta-analysis, researcher writes own “expression of concern”

On June 10, Psycho-Oncology, a journal that publishes research on the “psychological, social, behavioral, and ethical” side of cancer, received a complaint.

In a letter, Ad Kaptein, a researcher at the Leiden University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, wrote to say that a review and meta-analysis published by the journal that month hadn’t adequately cited the relevant literature in the field, including seven studies co-authored by Kaptein himself. The authors of the original paper say they had considered citing Kaptein’s work but decided against it, for various reasons.

The journal considered Kaptein’s complaint valid enough to publish his letter. But the letter carries the title “Expression of concern” — a term usually reserved for editorial notices issued by the journal to warn readers about some aspects of an article. But in this case, the author supplied the term, not the journal — yet the letter is tagged as an Expression of Concern on PubMed, giving the impression the paper has received a formal editorial notice.

Journal Co-Editor Maggie Watson told Retraction Watch:

Continue reading Miffed at exclusion from a meta-analysis, researcher writes own “expression of concern”

Fake peer review strikes again for pair of authors

Two authors who had a paper retracted for fake peer review in 2015 have lost another for the same reason.

Elsevier recently retracted the second paper by the duo, a 2015 paper in a cancer journal, after finding evidence of fake peer review. The paper was submitted in October 2014 and accepted just a week before our piece on fake peer review appeared in Nature.

According to the notice, after investigating the paper, which appeared in Cancer Letters, the publisher concluded that it was accepted “based upon the positive advice of at least two faked reviewer reports.” The notice also explained that the identities of several authors “could not be confirmed.” Continue reading Fake peer review strikes again for pair of authors

Soon-to-be-ex-rector of top Belgium university blames coverage of misconduct case for ouster

May was quite a month for Rik Torfs, the rector of a prominent university in Belgium. On May 9, Torfs lost his re-election campaign for rector of KU Leuven by a slim margin—out of more than 2100 votes, he lost by a mere 48. And just 20 days later, on May 29, Torfs wrote his final column for the Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard  — whom he believes was at least partly to blame for his election loss.

Specifically, it was the paper’s reporting on the university hospital’s (UZ Leuven) investigation into pediatric oncologist Stefaan Van Gool, which came just months before the election, that Torfs said he believes may have led to his ouster: Continue reading Soon-to-be-ex-rector of top Belgium university blames coverage of misconduct case for ouster